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Industrial pollution in Japan

Table of contents

Edited by
Jun Ui

Published with the support of the University of Okinawa

United Nations University Press

The United Nations University project on Technology Transfer, Transformation, and Development: The Japanese Experience was carried out from 1978 to 1982. Its objective was to contribute to an understanding of the process of technological development in Japan as a case-study. The project enquired into the infrastructure of technology, human resources development, and social and economic conditions and analysed the problems of technology transfer, transformation, and development from the time of the Meiji Restoration to the present. The research was undertaken by more than 120 Japanese specialists and covered a wide range of subjects, including iron and steel, transportation, textiles, mining, financial institutions, rural and urban society, small industry, the female labour force, education, and technology policy.

This volume presents research results on the negative side-effects of Japan's rapid technological and industrial development since the Meiji period.

The production and printing of this volume was made possible by a grant from the University of Okinawa. The United Nations University also gratefully acknowledges the generous support of the Japan Foundation for the United Nations University in the publication of this book.

The United Nations University, 1992

The views expressed in this publication are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the United Nations University.

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I. Environmental pollution: Basic precepts
II. Japan's extensive experience with environmental pollution in historical perspective
III. Contents

Chapter - 1 The Ashio Copper mine pollution case: The origins of environmental destruction

I. Technological modernization and the Ashio Copper Mine
II. Protests against mining poisons and governmental measures
III. Mine operations in the Post Sino-Japanese War era and the stance of the government
IV. Tanaka's attempt to appeal directly to the emperor and the poisoned water-collection pond plan
V. Shozo Tanaka takes up residence in Yanaka village
VI. The historical implications of the Ashio Copper-mine poisoning incidents
VII. Copper-poisoning issues and their aftermath
VIII. Conclusions: Lessons for today from the Ashio Copper-mine poisonings

Chapter - 2 Japan's Post-Second World War environmental problems

I. Historical background to Japan's first experience with high-level economic development
II. Environmental characteristics of post-second world war Japan: From visible to invisible pollution
III. Citizen and administrative response to environmental problems

Chapter - 3 The arsenic milk poisoning incident

I. Baby milk in the structure of the consumer economy
II. Expanding production of powdered milk and the Morinaga Milk Company
III. The arsenic milk poisoning incident and the Morinaga Company's Response
IV. Visit after 14 years - The Maruyama report
V. Expansion of the movement to save the victims
VI. Establishment of the Hikari foundation

Chapter - 4 Minamata disease

I. The Nippon Chisso Company: Beginnings
II. The beginnings of the carbide organic chemical complex
III. Recovering from the defeat of the Second World War
IV. The discovery of Minamata disease and the difficulty in determining its cause
V. Social trauma and the fishermen's riot
VI. Counteraction and unconcern
VII. Rediscovery of the Minamata disease in Niigata
VIII. Government understandings, renegotiations, and interventions
IX. Taking the Minamata disease case to court and citizen support
X. In search of the Minamata disease
XI. Sit-down strike at Chisso Company Headquarters - Seeking direct negotiations
XII. The third Minamata disease and administrative-level perfidy
XIII. Minamata disease victims' movements and efforts at renewal
XIV. Conclusion

Chapter - 5 The Miike coal-mine explosion

I. Energy-source conversion and coal-mine labour
II. Modernization of the coal mine and labour conditions
III. The worst of the coal-dust-related mine explosions
IV. The Miike coal-mine explosion of 9 November 1963
V. Increased numbers of gas-poisoning victims due to a lack of education
VI. Almost complete absence of a security policy
VII. Fatal mistakes made in the early stages of treatment
VIII. Carbon monoxide poisoning
IX. Unlimited human rights exploitation
X. Filing of suits for damage compensation

Chapter - 6 Social structures of pollution victims

I. Toward an understanding of pollution victims
II. The structures of environmental destruction
III. Destruction of life and health: problems of damage recognition and certification
IV. Destruction of life-support structures
V. Personality changes
VI. The battle against oppressive structures


I. Basic human rights
II. Issues arising out of court struggles
III. The role of science and technology
IV. The mass media
V. The future of Japan